Appealed from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Mar. 17, 2009)
Oral argument: Apr. 19, 2010
FIRST AMENDMENT, FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION, DISCRIMINATION
The Hastings Christian Legal Society (“CLS”) required that members agree with its core religious beliefs and pledge to live accordingly. Due to this requirement, the University of California-Hastings College of Law refused to recognize CLS as a registered student organization. Specifically, CLS’s membership requirement violated a nondiscrimination policy prohibiting registered student organizations from discriminating on the basis of religion or sexual orientation. CLS argued that Hastings violated its First Amendment right to free association and free exercise of religion by denying it an exemption from the nondiscrimination policy. The Ninth Circuit rejected CLS’s claims, holding that the school’s policy was viewpoint-neutral and reasonable in light of the school’s educational mission. The Supreme Court’s decision will settle a circuit split over whether a public school can require a religious student organization to open its membership to all students, regardless of their beliefs.